Posts Tagged ‘ EU ’

Crisis Year: International Relations 2014


In a morose way, 2014 has been a fascinating year for those with an interest in International Relations. Resurgent Russia and Islamic State have presented two prominent challenges to western liberal world order. The optimistic ‘end of history’ liberalism of the 1990’s now feels like a golden bygone era of stability and prosperity. In its place is a world where the hegemonic power of the United States is limited by insurgencies and despotic powers. In the field of international relations, realist scholars have had a long awaited ‘we told you so moment’. John Mearsheimer has ruffled many feathers with his article in Foreign Affairs ‘Why the Crisis in Ukraine is the West’s Fault’. Regardless of how palatable it is, Mearsheimer’s argument is frustratingly robust, and he presents credible counters to his critics. EU and NATO expansion has encroached into a region that Russia considers critical to its own security, and the latter has firmly drawn a line in the sand, violating international treaties and norms in a display of pure power politics. Although Russia is paying a price, it has asserted itself outside of its own borders in a way that the west cannot prevent. It seems that at long last, balancing is occurring, and the ‘rest’ are pushing back against the ‘west’ after a decade of diminishing US legitimacy and soft power. Continue reading

The Intrusion Of Social Networking


Social Networking website Facebook offers international communication for all its users, seemingly for free; but as we all know- nothing comes free in this world. Facebook users on mobile devices such as phone are now unable to access the messaging service unless they install the new splintered app. Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg intends to monetise the app, apparently at the cost of the user. This move goes against everything social networking stands for – but it is not the most concerning aspect of the newly formatted service.

The app promises that it is faster than the built in messenger system and Facebook boast that they have seen 20% of messengers are responding quicker. This is an interesting claim from the multi-billion dollar company considering that Facebook uses an instant message system. How can a message be received any quicker than instantly? The only way instant messages can be responded to any quicker is if the notification system is improved to deliver notice of the message received and that would not require a new, separate app from Facebook – which is what the new messenger system is. Continue reading

Government Unveil Action Plan For Jobs 2014


The Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation today published the Action Plan for Jobs 2014, the third annual instalment in the Government plan aimed at building a sustainable growing economy and creating jobs.

The Plan builds on the more than 500 measures already implemented through Action Plan for Jobs 2012 and 2013, and contains 385 actions to be implemented by all 16 Government Departments and 46 Agencies.  Building on the 2013 Plan three new Disruptive Reform topics have been targeted in the areas of Entrepreneurship, Winning Overseas and Manufacturing. Continue reading

News in Brief-Irish Lap Up Weather As Boris Rejects GAA Invite

ORANGE WARNING: IT’S too hot! The EU has ruled Ireland must enter Summer austerity as the heat wave continues leaving some parts of the Island hotter than popular holiday destinations and a severe shortage of paddling pools. Met Eireann’s expert Harm Luijkx accounted for the heat, it’s due to : ’long periods of sunshine every day.’ Tax the sun, tax the sun! NIB warned this day would come! Continue reading

News in Brief- Virgin On The Ridiculous

babyI know we’ve all been worrying about it but it’s ok, the European Commission isn’t banning refillable olive oil jugs in restaurants. PHEW. It’s no joke though. That innocent looking bottle atop the table in your local plastic vine covered eatery could actually be the source of some serious food fraud! Agricultural commissioner Dacian Ciolos has tried to tackle the greasy trickery of restaurant owners supplying their customers with low-grade oil in misleading bottles, however had to concede a u-turn on the policy when it received little support. Turns out, we don’t care if it’s extra virgin or engine, if we can dip our chips in it. An award goes to Scottish MEP Alyn Smyth, a monitor of the policy, who tweeted: ’olive oil proposal was, after all, virgin on the ridiculous’. Continue reading

The clone that we don’t know. Reflection around the EU video-warning to digital identity.

Are we really sure we were not cloned? The question may seem obvious in the answer or limping of meaning, perhaps slightly threatening. But its essence simply wants to be a beneficial provocation, parallel to the one launched by the European Union in recent days. Who will have the curiosity or at least the patience to scroll through these lines can catch the stimulus and give his answer.

A video was uploaded by EU Tube to warn about the risks of our personal informations which is present online.

he recall of the European Union is visually represented by some people who, in front of monitor and engaged in the most common practices online, are completely stripped of their clothes. Without not even realising. The words at the end of the video are emblematic: “Online you reveal more than you think. Take control of your personal data”.

This hollow engages our reflection on one of the most important issues related to Modern Communication: the digital identity. Built just by our personal data entered online through the everyday practices. “17 years ago less than 1% of Europeans used the Internet”- the voice of Viviane Reding, vice-president of the European Commission, highlights – “Today, vast amounts of personal data are transferred and exchanged, across continents and around the globe in fractions of seconds”.

But then, why did we commence talking about cloning? The problem is that the discussion about how much the human reproduction is appropriate and ethical is often dabbed at the exclusive area of Science. In fact, if we talk about cloning, we imagine someone identical to us… physically. As if we look in the mirror and feel strengthened/scared by our copy. The imagination, however, becomes more twisted if it skid on a less tangible level.

Let’s try to think if the much discussed cloning, obviously in a less material manner, has already taken place. Perhaps without our awareness, let alone our consent. And, avoiding to fantasize too much, many presentiments will be rejoin to the EU recommendation on the danger of ‘denudation’. In the video, in fact, the clothes of the people in front of computers are sucked, leaving them naked and mostly unconscious. If we are wondering where these clothes finish up, then we can imagine them wearing our beautiful electronic clone.

We try to understand better: the Internet, the most authoritative ambassador of the recent Communication changes, now has become a fundamental resource in our everyday’s life. A CISCO study of 2011 likens it even to food and water. A real need for the most part of users around the world, in some cases more important than a car or a relationship. In fact, we are always connected. We have become a nonstop jet of marks, movements and informations, often involuntary. And, through these tracks, boundless and unquenchable databases shape our electronic clone. Nobody can be considered non-duplicate or unduplicable. Nobody can play the hermit of this modern virtual society.

The answer to the initial question begins to take shape. We cannot, in fact, be sure that there is not already an existing clone of ourselves. Certainly we are talking about an immaterial and fluctuating entity, but there is. And the worst thing, as suggested just by the EU video, is that beyond our control. Indeed, it may be dominated and controlled by third parties, for the most varied purposes. The lack of control over our digital identity is one of the most important and least evident of modern communication.

It is demonstrated by the Eurobarometer’s report entitled “Attitudes on data protection and electronic identity in the European Union”, related to the end of 2010. Three out of every four Europeans, according to the survey,  agree to put their data online and, at the same time, worried about their use by third parties. The most part of Irish users, for example, claim to have only partial control over the data they provide online. A good 20% don’t have it at all.

The perception of the problems about own digital identity, was analyzed also by a survey in 2011, signed by the famous German company G Data. More than 15,000 users in 11 countries worldwide, have participated in the research, showing that there is the awareness about the risks of the personal data on the network. But it is still defective and outdated.

The wakes that we leave managing our bank account online, booking our flight on the Internet, when we send an email, when we forward a photo or even just while we put our nice “Like” on Facebook, define our virtual clone indelibly. A ‘double I’ that we create ourselves, but that we cannot master. An electronic identity, goods of anyone, with our ideas, our preferences, our tastes and our ways of being… but that we paradoxically don’t know. And that goes for a walk free in the Net with our ‘clothes’, but without our eyes.

“Nothing To Fear” – Kenny on Potential Fiscal Referendum

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has today said that there is “nothing to fear from a referendum” on the proposed eurozone fiscal treaty.

Mr Kenny made the comments ahead of a summit of EU leaders in Brussels at which the wording of such a document will be agreed. Irish government officials are said to be hopeful that the final text will enable the treaty to be implemented without the holding of a national referendum.

Mr Kenny said, “I’ve made this perfectly clear: that when the text is finalised, I will ask the Attorney General formally to present the government with the Attorney General’s response as to whether the agreed text – as finalised by the politicians – is in compliance with our constitution. If it is in compliance with Bunreacht na hÉireann, there is no need for a referendum. If it’s not, there will be a referendum.”

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland radio programme today, Minister of State for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton said she was hopeful the core of the draft treaty would remain unchanged. She also acknowledged that it would be difficult for Ireland to remain in the eurozone if voters rejected the treaty, saying “I think it would make it almost impossible for us to continue as part of the currency union because being part of a currency union means you have to abide by the rules.” On the same programme, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Trade Pádraig Mac Lochlainn accused the government of “running away from debate” by not holding a referendum.

A Belgium-wide general strike is currently underway to coincide with the political summit in Brussels. The work stoppage was organised by trade unions in protest at the plans of the newly-formed government to cut €11 billion in public spending and to raise the country’s retirement age. AFP reports that no public transport is available and blockades are present on many of the country’s roads, forcing the Belgian government to arrange access for the arriving EU leaders through a military airport.

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte told assembled reporters in Brussels that he hoped the conference would capacitate Greece, Portugal and Ireland to become less reliant on EU funding and to return to the open borrowing markets.

Germany recently confirmed it is seeking to have an EU-appointed “budget commissioner” sent to Greece with powers to override its government’s budget policy if necessary. Any other bailout-recipient country, including Ireland, that consistently miss repayment targets could face a similar fate.

Twenty five of the twenty seven EU states have consented to a eurozone fiscal stability treaty, with Britain and the Czech Republic refusing to sign the proposed intergovernmental document.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has become the latest opposition politician to voice his reservations about the treaty, describing it as “too limited to solve the crisis”.

The treaty will be formally signed at the next EU summit in early March and ratified by 1 January, 2013.

If the Attorney General decides the treaty does not breach the Constitution and a referendum is not required to implement it, a legal challenge from opposition parties is likely. The United Left Alliance today described not holding a referendum as “utterly undemocratic”.